Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Goodies may not make training any sweeter

Trying to win over trainees at the beginning of a motivational or training seminar with goodies like candy and small gifts may be turning them off more than they spark any added interest, according to new findings.

The research, out of the University of Iowa, suggests that predicting employees’ reactions to a training setting may be trickier than once thought. Kenneth Brown, a professor of management and organizations at the University of Iowa, was surprised by his recent discovery.

"A number of people, particularly in the profession of training and organizational development, argue that if you are going to bring people into a room or you're going to work with group of employees on a change effort that you should really try to create a positive environment, you should try to create positive mood," he says.

As part of his research, Brown and an assistant gave a group of students small gifts when they came to a training session and played music during breaks. They found about a third reacted positively. Another third reacted negatively and the other third basically had no reaction to the gifts and attempt to lighten the mood with music.

"We had some people who, you know, just thought this was kind of neat," Brown says, "...and other people who actually ended up disliking the environment more." In the minds of that group of people, the gifts and the music meant trainers were "trying too hard."

Brown doesn't classify his research as "groundbreaking," but he suggests it may be a "wake-up call" to those who conduct employee training for a living and assume plying participants with goodies will make the training go more smoothly. (Radio Iowa)

So, what does work? Humor, according to Brown. Managers who are open to humor and find humor in tough work situations helps connect people in group settings on a more personal level. The ability to laugh is clearly connected to positive mood and relationship building.

Do you offer trainees any type of goodies during the course? Any candy, small gifts, music, etc.? Do you think it helps/hurts the mood in the room?

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